Cycling lobbyists' guidebook provides insight into bike lanes debate

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

103 comments

Lobbying-For-Dummies
A lobbyist handbook provides insight into the bike lane debates – click for larger

Last week I published two posts on modernizing public participation in city government. I briefly touched upon the concept of lobbyists and advocacy groups and their impact on policy development at Vancouver City Hall. Given the positive reaction I had to this series (thanks for all your emails!), I thought it might be worth exploring a bit further just exactly what lobbying at 12th and Cambie actually looks like.

One of the most effective and visible lobby groups (outside the development industry) has to be the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC). They are very active within the City’s powerful Bicycle Advisory Committee and have been making their presence felt for years. According to their 2009 financial statements, their successful lobbying efforts are partially funded by:

  • Fed/Prov/Municipal Taxpayers: $159,764.02 (Delta, New Westminster, Surrey, Pitt Meadows, District of North Van, Metro Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Hydro and the City of Vancouver are all listed as financial contributors)
  • Translink: $165,430
  • Private Funding/Donations: $88,717.15

Some of the BC based companies supporting the VACC are Happy Planet Foods Ltd. and Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC). Happy Planet is Mayor Gregor Robertson's juice company (both Joel Solomon and Tide Canada Director Alan Broadbent are corporate directors of the juice company), while MEC just happens to sell a heckuva lot of bike gear, clothing and accessories along with other outdoor equipment. According to VACC’s website, 71% of their administration costs go to hire staff to lobby and conduct other programming throughout Metro Vancouver. In 2009, the VACC spent $343,501.17 to cover staff expenses.

I must say, as someone who's worked in politics and public affairs for a big chunk of my career, I tip my hat off to this organization. Not only have they convinced various levels of government to give them precious tax dollars to conduct their advocacy, they’ve also developed one of the most comprehensive lobbying guides I’ve ever seen in print. It’s an A-Z handbook on how to undertake successful lobbying campaigns and wring even more money out of civic politicians for separated bike lanes and cycling infrastructure.

Although I haven’t read it, I bet it probably puts BCAA's (the automobile guys) lobby guidebook to shame.

The Guide reveals the techniques, approaches and tactics of the VACC. It explains how to cozy up to the media, politicians and city staff in order to get them on to the cycling agenda. It talks about how politicians need to be spoken to differently than staff and even asserts that everything must be done to make local councillors and the Mayor “look good.”

Other advocacy groups in Vancouver could learn a lesson or two from this sophisticated approach to lobbying city hall. Luckily for other organizations (perhaps the Hornby Business Owners Coalition?) the complete advocacy guide can be found on their website and is available for a free download. I suspect this had to be posted online as its development was funded partially through taxpayer funds.

The guide opens up by asking “What is advocacy”. I should note the VACC never uses the dirty “lobby” word anywhere in their Guide. The more sanitized term “advocacy” was likely chosen over the “L” word as it sounds much more progressive and less “backroom-ish”.

So how does the cycling lobby define advocacy? The Guide states:

Basically, advocacy is the act of trying to persuade the members of a governing body to enact legislation or policy favourable to your cause or to defeat or repeal legislation or policy unfavourable to your cause. Lots of things are involved, but what it really comes down to is relationship building: relationships with politicians, with staff, with the media, with the business community, and with neighbourhood associations.

These are very astute observations and help to explain why the VACC are at city hall so much. In fact, staff privately joke that cycling activist Richard Campbell is at city hall so much he should be appointed as the 12th member of council. According to Thirdwave Cycling Inc:

Richard is currently a Director of the British Columbia Cycling Coalition, a member of the City of Vancouver's Bicycle Advisory Committee and project manager of the Regional Cycling Network Data Collection initiative for the VACC.

A man known as "Richard" regularly posts pro-cycling comments on CityCaucus.com. This is the same Richard Campbell from the VACC. We note that "Richard" recently took a shot at the BC Liberal government (the same folks who generously provide the VACC with lots of funding) when he wrote:

Providing homes to the homeless is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments. They have increased funding but still, the province's priorities seem to be elsewhere. Unfortunately, the province is spending $500 million on a new roof for BC Place, $1 billion on the South Fraser Perimeter Road and cutting taxes to corporations.

With all the debate around separated bike lanes vs. traditional bike lanes in Vancouver, the VACC Guide book provides some interesting insight into what their strategy just might be:

Change doesn’t happen by itself. Most improvements you see in cycling facilities around the Lower Mainland are the result of advocacy. If we don’t push for more, the best we can hope for is the status quo.

The status quo by the way has translated into Vancouver becoming one of the most bike-friendly jurisdictions in North America. Prior to the current Vision administration, over 400 km of dedicated bike paths had been constructed or planned throughout Vancouver. Regardless, this hasn’t hampered efforts by some who continuously peddle (pedal?) the idea that previous administrations were not friendly to cyclists.

The Guide also offers great tips to their legions of volunteers regarding how to properly lobby politicians at City Hall:

  • Politicians listen if the public is speaking
  • Use your inside connections as well as outside strategies
  • Try to be the one to frame the issue (e.g. we're pro-bike rather than anti-car)
  • Focus on the swing vote (don’t waste your energy on those who won’t be convinced)

This is all very good advice for any lobbyist and the document was clearly not written by a dummy. I particularly like the part about how you should use your “inside connections”.  I guess the Guide gives credence to the old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

As we previously revealed, a report released by Vancouver City Hall about getting live performance venues approved also touched upon a system that wasn’t corrupt, but could “influenced”. The City report stated

It’s not a corrupt system, but if you have a relationship or you know the right person, it is "influencable".

The VACC clearly indicates that working the media angle is an important part of their overall strategy. That’s likely why you see so many of their volunteers writing template letters to the editor and filling up the blogosphere anytime a cycling issue pops up. The VACC are also very adept at working key media that cover the city hall beat in the hope that all their efforts will pay off with good coverage. Here is an excerpt that helps to explain what I mean:

Access to the media – It’s not easy to develop relationships with members of the media. It’s a time-consuming exercise but should pay off in the long term.

Access to decision makers/politicians – This isn’t generally such a large issue at the local level but is more so when dealing with the provincial government.

Public attitude – There may sometimes be a negative reception to our advocacy work (“a bunch of bike radicals”) but it’s a good idea to start some conversations to try to find out what the real concerns are. Some people are opposed to our ideas, some are indifferent, while others are just unaware. The indifferent or unaware should be seen as potential allies.

It’s revealing that the cycling lobby feels they have good access to civic politicians, but when a Downtown Eastside business owner under siege wants to have a chat with the Mayor, he is rebuffed.

There are also several sections in the Guide which help to explain the difference between politicians and public servants when it comes to their power base. Regardless, the number one rule of thumb is all VACC lobbyists should make the politicians and staff “look good”, as this will yield results. There is no detailed explanation as to exactly what “looking good” means, but I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

The Guide states sometimes you need not bother the politicians, as staff can just go ahead and act on your request without much “fuss and bother”:

Work with municipal or provincial staff: Staff may be able to make things happen without too much fuss and bother; give them facts and advise them; give them a chance to look good.

Work with politicians: make them look good; give them credit; don’t overwhelm them with details.

I’m not sure if civic politicians will find it amusing that the Guide says they shouldn’t be bothered with the "details" of an issue. If not bothered with the details, then what? Perhaps a discussion of the politician's upcoming holiday plans over a sip of cognac at the Wedgewood Hotel? The Guide delves even further into this topic:

Mmayor (sic), councillors, MLAs, ministers, etc., while perhaps not knowing the details of bicycle infrastructure and programs, help bring the funding and set the priorities for the bureaucracy.

It’s hard to believe that multi-million dollar decisions such as separated bike lanes on Hornby are being made by civic politicians who know little of the details of the initiative. Or is it?

As for how all the VACC’s lobbying efforts can pay off, they provide a helpful explanation regarding the inner workings of city hall:

The more bicycle-trained staff there are in local government, the more institutionalized good bicycle facility planning and implementation will become.

It’s as simple as that folks. All the lobbyists have to do is make the bureaucrats aware of a particular issue and presto, you’ve got instant and institutionalized action. Or perhaps it is better known in some circles as “systemic social change”.

When I read the next section, I couldn’t help but think about how the debate raging in the media regarding the Hornby and Dunsuir separated bike lanes:

While we have to be diplomatic and build and maintain respect for the issues we represent, it’s sometimes necessary to push, pull, and pry other stakeholders along.

Ouch. Pry other stakeholders along? All this sounds like so much work and even a tad painful if you ask me. I guess it’s all in days work, but who would have thought that even a reference to stroking the egos of politicians would make it into the Guide.

If you don’t have any specific events planned, it still helps to make politicians look good. This isn’t just a question of stroking egos; if someone has done something we consider positive, we should let them (and others) know.

Under a section entitled “Staff”, the VACC once again mention the importance of making the city bureaucrats look good:

Staff aren’t politically driven the way elected officials are, but they do make important decisions affecting cycling. It helps to get staff involved and passionate about our issues. The best way to do that is to keep them informed. If you come across some useful information or a great idea from another jurisdiction, pass it on. It may help the staff person look good, and it will improve cycling conditions locally.

In my previous posts I referred to the fact you need to sign up early in order to get your name as high up on the official speakers list as possible. That’s because for hot issues, the lobbyists want to ensure the first 10-15 speakers all sing from the same song sheet. The Guide helps to explain the strategy:

Sign up for the speakers’ list as early as you can. The media sometimes leave before the end of the meeting and you want to make sure they hear you before they write their stories.

I can’t tell you how many times I read a story about something that happened at city hall the next day and wondered if I had attended the same meeting as everyone else. That’s because with the archaic public feedback system, the most organized supporters/opponents are almost always up first to speak and try to run out the clock – often times with help from a few politicians.

I trust you’ve found this post enlightening and if you are interested in lobbying your local city hall, I’d highly recommend you use the VACC’s A-Z lobby handbook as a reference document.

As part of my ongoing series on this topic, I have requested an interview with Richard Campbell, VACC advocate and frequent Vancouver City Hall presenter and blog commenter. I’d like to get his perspective on the issue of public engagement at city hall and whether advocacy groups like the VACC are helping or hurting the overall public policy development process. Richard did not respond to our request before we published this post, but once we do hear back we'll ask him about his tactics and share our conversation here on CityCaucus.com.

UPDATE: Subsequent to publishing this story we received a note advising us that Richard Campbell is no longer working for the VACC.

- Post by Daniel

103 Comments

Hi Daniel:

There is an important difference between bike paths, routes, and lanes. There aren't 400km of bike paths in Vancouver. There are 400 'lane kilometres' of bike routes, paths, and lanes in total around the city.

From the City's web page on cycling:

"There are currently more than 400 lane-kilometres of bike routes in the city. (A lane kilometre includes one-way and two-way measurements for bike paths and lanes.)"

I know that this may be semantics to some, but it is an important distinction, as many routes are simply traffic-calmed streets, lanes do not have barriers between vehicles and bicycles, and paths are typically (recent additions notwithstanding) more suited to recreational riding than getting from point A to point B in a direct fashion.

With so much skepticism surrounding statistics regarding cycling I think it's important that statements regarding the amount and nature of cycling facilities in the region aren't misconstrued by individuals who aren't familiar with the details of the debate.

The VACC must be doing a good job. They have unanimous support from city council, including the NPA. Even Peter Ladner is writing about how amazing the Hornby bike lane is: http://crosscut.com/2010/08/12/vancouver/20056/In-Vancouver,-B.C.,-new-bike-lanes-and-soon-public-bikes/

Peter who?

if you want to see Richard Campbell in action go the the video of the November 3 Tranportation and Traffic committee,as well as Jack Becker and Arno Shortinghuis, all BAC and VACC shills.
http://cityofvan-as1.insinc.com/ibc/mp/md/open/c/317/1199/200911030900wv150en,001
PS I'm in there too,near the end (but I have hair now).

I think it's the same wishy washy Peter Ladner that flip flopped several times regarding his support for the Burrard Bridge bike lane. I wouldn't put too much weight on his opinion. I wonder if his publishing empire were located on Hornby if he'd be a bit more sympathetic.

This article just goes to show how sick our local democracy is.

A lobby group is receiving hundreds of thousands of tax dollars for the primary purpose of lobbying governments for millions more in taxpayer dollars. VACC received more taxpayer dollars than the profit most of the small businesses on Hornby make in a year.

If they were truly grassroots, their private donations would outstrip their grants.

Sadly, I take it that the situation isn't exclusive to cycling lobby. There are likely scores of so-called "non-profit societies" that receive taxpayer dollars for what are mostly thinly-veiled political activities. And their is little the citizenry at large can do as long as every political party supports this type of trough mentality.

This is what you get when you elect people who put the environment above citizens' rights.

Denver also has their own Gregor:

"Bike agenda spins cities toward U.N. control, Maes warns"

http://www.denverpost.com/election2010/ci_15673894

The money the VACC receives are for the programs they run, such as safe riding workshops conducted by Can-Bike certified instructors, school-based programs for children, so that good cycling habits are taught at a young age, free public events such as Bike to Work Week, offering cycling skills workshops to immigrant women looking for a cost-effective way to get around the city, and so on.

The VACC actively promotes solutions to the most common criticisms leveled at the cycling community. Advocacy is only one part of its mandate, much like hundreds of other organizations that receive public funding and work with governments to represent various community interests.

Based upon Daniel's numbers and a list of cultural grants awarded by the city, the VACC appears to have received less monies from the city than the Bill Reid Gallery was awarded for an HVAC upgrade.

(disclosure: I have worked for the VACC in a communications role)

The Denver thing is a bit over the top. Notice that their public bike program is financed by private grants and donors.

The issue isn't about cyclists or even a mayor with an agenda. It's how people involved in the cycling lobby used taxpayer dollars to force the diversion of millions in taxpayer money against the wishes of the majority of citizens.

This is truly sick.

And I'll also add that the Bill Reid Gallery hasn't gone out of its way to inconvenience people, force their philosophy of life on them, or lobby government for millions.

"The Denver thing is a bit over the top."

Oh, so moderates are now allowed to distance themselves from the extremists on the same side on an issue?

Good to know. I guess that means law-abiding cyclists no longer have to answer for the behavior of their less-exemplary brethren.

I can distance myself if I want because I am just a meaningless voting citizen and not a taxpayer-funded lobbyist.

The comparison was to provide some perspective on the amount of money being spent on cycling programs in Metro Vancouver. No one is forcing Council to do anything. The most common criticism is they are beholden to their donors... now you are telling us its the organizations that receive money from the City that control the purse-strings and drive policy? That seems hard to believe.

Further, I have not seen any indication that the majority of people are against better cycling facilities or programs to encourage riders to obey traffic regulations. In fact, most critics of the current situation actually preface their remarks by saying they ARE for those initiatives, but the problems are either the specific locations or amount of input into the process the community can offer.

Many of the bike lane critics on this blog make those remarks and its certainly my experience in debating this topic ad infinitum that process and particulars are the sticking points, not the general shift towards encouraging viable options for travel beyond reliance on motor vehicles.

@ Chris "The money the VACC receives are for the programs they run, such as safe riding workshops conducted by Can-Bike certified instructors, school-based programs for children, so that good cycling habits are taught at a young age..."

Check out this video. Hmmm, not sure all that education is amounting to much.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1aY3TORHns&feature=player_embedded

PS Are you still being paid by any cyclist organizations? If so, whom?

"I can distance myself if I want because I am just a meaningless voting citizen and not a taxpayer-funded lobbyist."

You're an anonymous Internet poster. For all we know you're a car salesman. Or a a member of the road-building industry. Or a card-carrying NPA member. All those scenarios would certainly put a new spin on your comments wouldn't they?

Sorry, but if you want the benefits of anonymity, then you have to take the downside too, and that's that everything you write has to be looked at with a higher degree of cynicism.

Lots of posters on here provide a link with their name that provides context for their comments. One poster owns a limo business. I have a vested interest in seeing cycling grow. For many of us, our political views, business dealings, and volunteer work have areas of overlap. There's nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with governments helping fund organizations that also offer input into public policy. If we did that then a community centre association would either have to choose between taking municipal funding, or appearing before council to ask for money for a pool, or playground, or ice rink.

Suggesting a small non-profit can somehow force politicians into spending millions of dollars of capital funding against the wishes of the majority of citizens just doesn't pass the credibility test.

I asked this before and it went ignored---if Mayor/Council are doing all they can to get re-elected (like any politician would), why would they be so beholden and pander to the cycling community? It's a relatively small group, they'd guarantee themselves a drubbing in the next election...

Seems people just look for conspiracies where they want them to be...

"If we did that then a community centre association would either have to choose between taking municipal funding, or appearing before council to ask for money for a pool, or playground, or ice rink."

Should more properly read: "If we disallowed that...."

Yes, Peter has always supported regional biking.

But in referencing his article I note that he sees what is in store for the Hornby retailers and hoteliers:

"They’re doomed to be ground up in this nice new sausage".

Funny, I haven't heard City Hall utter anything about the effects of biking on the area merchants.

Patrick:

I'm not a paid lobbyist. I have already disclosed my relationship with the VACC. I have never engaged in an online debate or other advocacy work in exchange for payment of any kind.

If you want further details, my contact information is as easy to find as clicking on my name. I look forward to speaking with you. Need a writer?

cheers,

CK

Personally, I don't really care whether you view my comments with cynicism or not. If it matters to you, I don't have any business stake in bikes or roads or cars.

My problem is the way you and groups like yours corrupt democracy and siphon tax dollars for your personal use. It's killing citizen involvement and democracy at its core.

And your group isn't small. You receive more in taxpayer funds than most of the small businesses the Hornby lanes will hurt make in a year. How big would your group be if there wasn't a constant flow of unearned cash flowing your way for thinly-veiled "programs".?

Fund your own "advocacy".

Yes boohoo. Why would elected officials pander to a small group of influential people. Say, like developers? That would never happen, right?

Get your head out of the sand. Gregor knows he can expect a lot of canvassers, phone bank volunteers, sign locations etc...from his cycling pals. They're active, they're vocal, they're clearly political, and thus the Mayor and his vision team will rely upon them to help get the votes out on election day.

"@ Chris "The money the VACC receives are for the programs they run, such as safe riding workshops conducted by Can-Bike certified instructors, school-based programs for children, so that good cycling habits are taught at a young age..."

Check out this video. Hmmm, not sure all that education is amounting to much."

I counted two kids in that 3 min video... and there's absolutely no way of knowing if they've had road safety training offered by the VACC.

Your example only goes to show how much more money we should have beeen spending on safety training when all the adults in that video were learning road rules (probably before the VACC began their programs). Like any education program, they generally turn out to be worthwhile investments.


@Tim

But if the overwhelming majority that many claim to be out there don't want these bike lanes and think it's a horrible idea etc...Why would the mayor/council continue to pursue it?

Pandering to developers is common because they are worth billions and do have power. The cycling lobby is nowhere near that...This notion that the mayor and council are in the back pocket of such a small relatively powerless group is bizzare.

A lobbyist group with nearly a half million dollar annual budget to pursue one issue is hardly small or powerless.

So, Chris,

When you say that you "have a vested interest" in the biking program, is that affirmation that you are being paid to support the biking initatives? You neglected to answer that outright in your previous post. Are you working as a communications person for VACC or any other biking support organization?

Many of us bike. I suppose many NPAers bike, too (as per Peter Ladner and Ms. Anton).

Let's face it, shall we: bikers in a dedicated, protected lane---one that is in fact a non-stop 'commuter lane'---will be less likely to "stop and shop" regardless of what PL might think or do. It will be interesting to see what happens to established area merchants revenues once the barricades go in. I would think that Hornby could have had a dedicated lane (without barricades) that would have allowed for more street animation. It all looks really sterile. I have been to Stockholm---where people DON'T bike ride like maniacs, and use, at most, 3-gear equipment---and everyone gets along quite nicely---cars included. Maybe speed is the real culprit here??

Yes, I do think that the lack of consultation/warning is a big part of the issue.

This is a continuing pattern at City Hall and I would say that the grassroots neighbourhood support groups(Marpole, the DTES, West End) that are springing up around it should be considered "fair warning".

Agree on that!

VACC has always been very successful at getting out their people---Critical Mass, students as well as other peeps---to meetings, ribbon cuttings, etc. They lobby all parts of the system---local government, transit, the province. In the end, groups look for pols to coalese around. And pols look for voting blocks. It's an ---ahem---symbiotic relationship :-)

There are payoffs for everyone. Would be interesting for someone to do a story on this...

Reality Check:

Like-minded individuals working together is a cornerstone of democracy, not something that's killing it.

The funding is a red-herring. Hundreds (probably thousands) of small organizations across Canada both receive tax dollars and approach governments to encourage decisions favorable to their interests

That's a good thing, just as it's acceptable that tax dollars be used by elected officials to communicate to constituents. The VACC is made up of very hard-working volunteers and staff who should be commended for their work on behalf of the thousands and thousands of cyclists in the region who aren't able to come before council or spend time debating in online forums, not vilified for their civic involvement.

Sorry, but I have better things to do today (like earning a living on non-cycling related work) than restating the obvious again and again. This will be my last response to you at this time.

Have a great Friday.

CK

But you guys are missing my point, if the number of people who ride bikes and who think these bike lanes are a good idea is so small, then why would politicians pander to such a demographic?

Somehow, I think the taxpayers of the Lower Mainland won't find the funding issue a Red Herring. I think they'll find it shocking and infuriating.

I already answered these questions once and this will be the last time I do it.

"When you say that you "have a vested interest" in the biking program, is that affirmation that you are being paid to support the biking initatives?

As I noted earlier, I'm not paid to lobby. My vested interest is as a freelance writer who writes about cycling and for organizations with a cycling focus. Visit my website for examples. I have nothing to hide.

You neglected to answer that outright in your previous post. Are you working as a communications person for VACC or any other biking support organization?"

Again, I have already answered this... before anyone asked. I have done work for the VACC as a communications coordinator. I am not currently under contract to them or any other cycling organization. My comments here are my own. My only reason for bringing it up was to be honest about it, in the spirit of openness regarding my affiliations with groups that do advocacy.

Email me if you want further details. I'm happy to talk about it, but I'm not interested in re-answering these questions every time a new poster shows up.

Didn't Translink say they have no funding for turnstiles, but managed to give over $160K to this group? What gives? Didn't they also just increase bus fares as well. Is this where the bus fare increases are going?

This all sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Too bad Chris couldn't stick around to chat any longer (like he normally does). I guess things were hitting a bit too close to home.

Translink also refused funding for a Seniors bus service on the North Shore that keeps people in their 80s and 90s mobile and self-sufficient. The cost? $60,000 a year.

Perhaps these seniors on the North Shore should bike everywhere?

Hmmm....according to the bios on this site, the poster lives in New Westminster. The current Vancouver politicians are shrewd enough to know that the represent the interests of the RESIDENTS of Vancouver. Who cares what some angry suburbanite thinks? Perhaps he should spend a little more time concerned about the welfare of the New West and leave Vancouver to the Vancouverites.

Regarding the point of the post - VACC is an advocacy organization and is fully transparent about its objectives, including putting its materials online.

Don't hate them just because they're effective.

"This all sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland. Too bad Chris couldn't stick around to chat any longer (like he normally does). I guess things were hitting a bit too close to home."

I'm at home right now waiting for your call Patrick. Contact details by clicking on my name. Don't be afraid. I don't bike, I mean bite.

Got work to do friend. Wasted a huge chunk of my day yesterday arguing on the Internet.

cheers,
CK

"The money the VACC receives are for the programs they run, such as safe riding workshops conducted by Can-Bike certified instructors, school-based programs for children, so that good cycling habits are taught at a young age..."

**********

Judging by a lot of the cyclists today - they missed a few generations.

@Max

"The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition was established as a non-profit society in 1998"

You have a time machine you're not sharing with us? :-)

Payback.

Gregor rode with Critical mass prior to becoming Mayor.

Happy Planet donates money as does Joel Soloman (huge backer of Robertsons) bike company.

This is somewhat the same scenario as the fireman, police and teachers (all CUPE members) getting first dibs on the 'marketing housing' at the Olympic village.

CUPE donated big bucks to Robertson and Vision and Meggs has 'vested interest'.

It all comes down to payback.

You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

According to a study done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, in 2008 Translink lost $9.4 million in fare evasion.

Hey, wasn't that the same year Robertson got tagged?

Thank you Mr. Mayor for leading by example!

Maybe it's payback, although I'm not sure what the cycling lobby could tempt him with compared to say the development lobby.

Or maybe it's just the mayor doing what he said he'd do when he ran for election and won by a majority. And that the silent majority are ok with that, as much as blogs and radio hosts like to rant and rave.

And if they aren't, well we'll see that in the next election.

Holy crap,
Chris is a paid shrill.
Honestly, I didn't realize this. Here I'm think it's just some typical biker really trying to put his opinion across.
But no, he's on the payroll.
No point in debating anymore.
You can't be objective when you a paid lobbyist, Chris.
And saying that you are not paid to blog but are paid for other things is splitting hairs.

Surround the city with gates. Keep out the riff raff. Vancouver is only for Vancouverites - preferably those who have lived here for decades. Are you for real?

Using your logic, I guess everyone from the "burbs" who works as a fireman, policeman, nurse etc in Vancouver...should simply stay home and just work in their community. I guess they shouldn't care about the future of the region's largest city.

Perhaps us suburbanites should all boycott Vancouver and stop coming to hockey games, football games, concerts and such. I guess you don't like the colour of our money? This is no longer 1950 when you took the interurban to get to Surrey. Get with the program dude. I think the person who posted this story struck a chord, and it's ringing pretty loud this morning.

RF:

Believe what you want. You're clearly not interested in the facts, so I won't trouble you with them.

What a bizarre blog post. Your apparent distaste for cycling on the publicly funded streets paired with your obvious admiration for the cycling interests lobbying acumen.

I am totally unclear on why anybody would begrudge people from getting out of their cars and onto the roads. It takes away from pollution (I know, probike people aren't supposed to talk about that, shhhhhhh.), has health benefits (so potentially decreases chronic dependency on medical system), creates less wear-and-tear on the road infrastructure, demands less of our fossil fuels, blah blah blah blah. I mean, sorry? What's not to appreciate about the people who are willing to take a car off the road, live locally and demand safe routes?

This attitude reminds me of the outrage of smokers as they have found less and less places to light up. It's just dumb. No offense.

"And saying that you are not paid to blog but are paid for other things is splitting hairs."

Of course it isn't. It's an important distinction that speaks to integrity and transparency. I'm trying to demonstrate both.

I might be upset about a lobby for an industry getting government money to lobby for conditions more profitable for big corporate interests. But in this present case, I can think of many organizations that receive government money that also perform advocacy and think it's fine. CNIB for example receives many millions from government and spends a part of it on advocating for the blind and visually impaired, which is well worth it to me, even as a person with good eyesight.

As a dues-paying member of VACC for several years, I would like to offer VACC my support for their efforts to improve the cycling situation in and around Vancouver.

Theirs (and many other cycling advocacy groups') ongoing work to open up safe bicycle lanes into and out of downtown Vancouver have made it possible for me to resume cycle commuting to and from work on every ice-free working day of the year (Thanks also to the inventors of Gore-Tex).

I would like to make one clarification to the contributor who calls himself "Angry Taxpayer". The Critical Mass ride is not organised by VACC. Vancouver's Critical Mass is an unorganised event that emulates a similar activity that started in San Francisco many years ago. No one leads it and no entity organises it. It is, however, a lot of fun since it allows cyclists to safely travel and enjoy a bit of quiet on our city streets with other cyclists for a couple of hours a month; streets that are normally given over to motor vehicle traffic for all of the remaining 700+ hours per month, year in and year out. Come give it a try, starting at the VAG at 6:00 PM, the last Friday of each month.

Want to point out as well... I'm a VACC dues paying member. I do *not* go on Critical Mass. Looks fun and all, just seems very divisive.

And the desperate e-mail to VACC members goes out to defend the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars they receive to lobby politicians. What an impressive mafia they've become.

To compare political lobbying on the taxpayers' dime to the charitable work the CNIB does for genuinely disadvantaged people is shameful. But as we see by the dollar numbers and their public behaviour, shame isn't exactly something that VACC members are very familiar with.

Critical Mass is not 'unorganized'.

As for it being fun; if blocking main routes, threatening vehicles and pedestrians is your kind of fun then it kind of explains why we still have muppets riding on the sidewalks and without helmets.

Seems cyclists believe they don't have to follow the rules of road -just everybody else does.

Max:

Shouldn't you be off looking for proof CanWest journalist must, by contract, provide a vehicle for business use per your claim yesterday?

Here, let me help you.

http://www.mediaunion.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Part-A-Granville-Square-final.pdf

(page 18, section 22)

I'm glad Chris Keam mentioned the "400 lane-kilometres of bike routes". I AM familiar with the details of the debate and can say that the amount and nature of the cycling facilities HAVE been misconstrued by Mayor, Council, the BAC and the VACC. For example, about one-half of that 400 lane-kilometres is actually DOOR-ZONE BIKE-LANE! Any observations on shortcomings of what has already been installed are ignored and/or stifled by the VACC and the BAC, which both act as blockades between the general cycling population and the politicians. The politicians want to maintain their "400 lane-kilometres" as brownie-point propaganda and are loath to have inappropriate or dangerous "designated bike routes" eliminated. The VACC wants to "make the politicians look good" and the BAC is, of course, appointed by Council, so any dissenters in the Cycling "Community" get labeled (and treated) as Official Enemies of Mayor and Council, the BAC and the VACC. It is all very incestuous and undemocratic.

Expansion of cycling infrastructure should NOT be the only priority. Critical assessment, maintenance and improvement of what has already been installed are at least as important but Mayor, Council, BAC and VACC are hostile to input from outsiders.

It's hard to get behind a lobby when it constantly and blatantly sticks its collective middle finger in the face of the rest of society.

I have no problem with bike lanes, not even expensive, permanent bike lanes. Bikes are wonderful modes of transport and their use should be encouraged now and into the future.

But there are limits to everything. If a car driver gets caught without a seat belt on, he gets a fine. If he gets caught running a stop sign or a red light, he gets a fine. If he speeds or drives drunk, he get a fine, or worse. It is high time that we start to focus this debate on the safety and legal issues.

Have a nice weekend, folks.

Province of British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act

184


A person commits an offence if that person operates or rides as a
passenger on a cycle on a highway and is not properly wearing a bicycle
safety helmet that


  1. is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under subsection
    (4) (a), or

  • meets the standards and specifications prescribed under subsection
    (4) (b).


  • A parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years commits
    an offence if the parent or guardian authorizes or knowingly permits the
    person to operate or ride as a passenger on a cycle on a highway if that
    person is not properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet that


    1. is designated as an approved bicycle safety helmet under subsection
      (4) (a), or

    2. meets the standards and specifications prescribed under subsection
      (4) (b).


    3. A person who is convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (2)
      is liable to a fine of not more than $100.

    4. The superintendent may make regulations as follows:
      1. designating a helmet as an approved bicycle safety helmet for the
        purposes of this section;

      2. prescribing standards and specifications for bicycle safety helmets.


      3. Regulations made under subsection (4) (b) may adopt by reference,
        in whole or in part, standards or specifications published by a national
        or international standards association, as amended from time to time.


      4. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:


        1. providing for and requiring the identification and marking of bicycle
          safety helmets;

        2. exempting any person or class of persons from the requirements of
          this section and prescribing conditions for those exemptions.


        top


        City of Vancouver Street and Traffic By-Law No. 2849

        (as of March 30, 1999)
        Driver must have hand on steering device

        41.


        No person shall drive a vehicle without having at least one hand on the
        steering device, and no person shall operate a bicycle without having
        at least one hand on the handle bars.

        Slow Moving Vehicles

        59.

        The driver of every slow moving vehicle shall drive such vehicle as close
        as possible to the right hand edge or curb of any street unless it is
        impracticable to travel on such side. For the purpose of this section
        a bicycle shall be regarded at all times as a slow moving vehicle.


        Bicycles

        60.


        No person shall ride any bicycle upon any sidewalk except where posted
        by signs.


        60A.


        No person shall ride a bicycle upon a street while wearing headphones,
        or any other manufactured device capable of transmitting sound, over or
        in close proximity to both ears, except that this prohibition shall not
        apply to the wearing of a device designed and worn for the purpose of
        improving the wearer's ability to hear sounds emanating from outside of
        the device.

        60B.


        No person shall ride a bicycle upon a street unless the bicycle is equipped
        with a bell capable of being used as a warning.

        60C.


        The various paths and ways shown and described by either a thick black
        solid line or a thick black dashed line on the plans attached to this
        By-Law as Schedule C (link to Streets and Traffic By-Law No. 2849) are,
        pursuant to Section 124(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act, hereby designated
        for the purposes of sections 60D and 60E.


        60D.


        No person shall operate or ride as a passenger on a bicycle on any path
        or way shown on Schedule C (link to Streets and Traffic By-Law No. 2849)
        unless the person is properly wearing a bicycle safety helmet that has
        been designated under or complies with the standards and specifications
        of the Motor Vehicle Act.

        60E.


        No parent or guardian of a person under the age of 16 years shall authorize
        or knowingly permit the person to operate or ride as a passenger on a
        bicycle on any path or way shown on Schedule C (link to Streets and Traffic
        By-Law No. 2849) unless the person is properly wearing a bicycle safety
        helmet that has been designated under or complies with the standards and
        specifications of the Motor Vehicle Act.


        60F.


        A police officer may arrest without warrant any bicyclist whom the officer
        finds committing a breach of any provision of this by-law if such person
        fails to stop and state his or her name and address when so requested
        by the police officer.


        top


        Chris:

        I subtly mentioned I worked in sales - try putting two and two together.

        Or would you prefer I outline my entire work history starting with the Financial Post in 1993.

        First hand knowledge.

        Max wrote: "Judging by a lot of the cyclists today - they missed a few generations."

        So, that must mean that you are arguing that the VACC needs more money for its education programs.

        Forgot to mention:

        Most media companies provide a car allowance of up to $500 per month. (As well as cell phone and expenses).

        Gary has hit the nail right on the head. The tight-knit relationship between the taxpayer funded lobbyists and politicians stifles a wide variety of opinions on the issue.

        Mo, more like it is a waste of taxpayer money.

        @ColinB. How about less money for the VACC, and more enforcement of the laws of this Province. What a novel concept. It might actually pull in dollars, make for safer roads, and reduce the amount of tax dollars we need to give to lobbyists.

        "If a car driver gets caught without a seat belt on, he gets a fine. If he gets caught running a stop sign or a red light, he gets a fine. If he speeds or drives drunk, he get a fine, or worse. It is high time that we start to focus this debate on the safety and legal issues."

        Cyclists by law are expected to abide by these same regulations John (substitute helmets for seatbelts in this case).

        Stepped-up enforcement of traffic regulations is something very few people would argue is a bad idea. But, will that stepped enforcement be best allocated towards cyclists, or automobile drivers? Are we seeking window dressing or an effective campaign against the injuries and fatalities that result from people ignoring traffic laws. If the latter, then it's hard to make a case for wasting the police's time on helmet tickets, when dozens of pedestrians are run over in crosswalks every year by vehicles.

        Miguel wrote "This is what you get when you elect people who put the environment above citizens' rights."

        Isn't a clean environment a citizens' right? Don't you want your grand-children to have a liveable planet? Or do you believe it is your citizen right to destroy the planet?

        Max:

        Please note I never took issue with your statement as it applies to Ad reps, but here's your original post:

        "Let's try this: (as we are on a news site) how many ad sales and journalists working at the Vancouver Sun/Province are there? Couple hundred between the groups.

        I can tell you that all of them by contract are required to have a vehicle, as would the CTV/Globe & Mail people, Metro Vancouver, 24 hours etc, CBC, etc."

        And I have now provided two examples (a job ad, and a collective agreement) that counter this claim, as well as pointing out that TV news crews typically drive fleet vehicles.

        Hi everyone, I’m the Executive Director (a staff position) at the VACC. I appreciate the interest in what we do and why. As you can see by the source of the article (our manual), we always strive to be open about what we do and to that end I wanted to provide additional data and clear up some of the misunderstandings.

        In the past year, the VACC received funding from over 100 organizations and over 1500 individuals and families to provide programming to 12 municipalities, their communities, and citizens. Our programming covers Bike to School, Streetwise Cycling (safety and skills classes for adults), and Bike to Work. We receive funding to teach people how to ride safely and knowledgeably, promote health and wellness, and increase sustainable lifestyles in our communities.

        Bike to School focuses on teaching elementary and secondary students the rules of the road, ways to be fit and healthy, safe cycling and safe routes to schools. In 2010, Bike to School had training and events for over 2,800 students and teachers across Metro Vancouver.

        Bike to Work is funded as a program to promote safe routes to work and to encourage cycle commuting to decrease traffic congestion and provide healthier lifestyles. In June 2010 Bike to Work Week had over 50 commuter stations supporting over 7,000 cyclists commuting to work that week, almost 5,000 registering on our Bike to Work site.

        Streetwise is our program for adult and family cycling education. Our goal is to provide the best possible training covering everything from learning to ride through to bike maintenance. The more people who learn the rules of the road and can ride with safety,confidence, and respect for all road users, the more cycling will be a positive experience for everyone. So far in 2010 we’ve trained over 600 adults. This includes an innovative program delivered to immigrant women, and a recent learn to ride course with a lady who is 75!

        For our membership and events, seniors and women are our fastest growing segments and women represented 45% of spring Bike to Work Week participants.

        The VACC’s advocacy work is conducted by volunteers. We have not received any funding from government sources for advocacy, only for the above programs. Government and business will often contract out to other organizations who are able to provide more cost effective (bike in our case). In 2009 we received a total of $3,000 from the cycling industry specifically to support for advocacy support. Some of our membership fees also support our advocacy work.

        Regarding Richard Campbell, he is a current member of the VACC. The Regional Cycling Network Data Collection initiative ended in the fall of 2009 and he currently does not do any contract work for the VACC at this time.

        I hope this information is beneficial. We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss the VACC and our programs with any interested party. Don’t hesitate to call us at 604-878-8222, or come by our office at 3 West 3rd Avenue. Our office is usually open from 10am -4pm daily, with the exception of Fridays prior to event weekends.

        Best regards,

        Keith Ippel
        Executive Director, VACC

        Chris, this is the kind of arrogance and stupidity that I see here in Vancouver from the bicycle lobby.

        Let me make this 100% clear: Cyclists who refuse to wear a bicycle helmet are MORONIC and NEED TO BE FINED.

        Your argument that more money should be spent on going after motor vehicle traffic regulation violators is a straw man argument of the worst kind. Your issue has nothing to do with the fact that bicyclists are both 1) Breaking the law and 2) Being absolutely stupid in not wearing a safety helmet while riding through city streets.

        All it takes is one innocent looking fall for a non-helmet wearing bicyclist to crack his skull and kill himself or cause himself myriad major injury.

        I'll repeat this: Your response shows the arrogance and stupidity of some of the bicyclists here in Vancouver. If cyclists don't change their attitudes and start wearing helmets and not riding on sidewalks and not being foolish, they will simply not get an iota of respect from me. If cyclists don't change their attitudes, the law needs to BE APPLIED AND THEY NEED TO BE FINED for their offenses.

        Stupid, stupid, stupid.

        One additional point of qualification so there is no ambiguity: the VACC does not organize or run the Critical Mass rides.

        John,

        Might I point out there are who knows how many people who drive without a seat belt on? Is that ok?

        But if a cyclist stupidly chooses to not wear a helmet, does that really matter to you? If they fall and kill themselves because they weren't wearing a helmet...well, Darwin wins again.

        Now with regards to blowing through stop signs, red lights, etc... the argument is that of public safety and allocation of police resources. Would you rather spend money enforcing the rules of the road on automobiles or bikes? Ideally it would be both and anything else, but we all know we don't have the resources for that. So, we have to choose. And cars are far more likely to injure/kill than bikes are. So, we choose to use our scarce resources are enforcing the rules on drivers.

        Whether or not it's "stupid" to not wear a bike helmet, the question is whether it is appropriate for the government to coerce people to make the choices it deems most appropriate (aka facsim).

        Many people make poor choices about eating and not getting enough exercise. Should those people be fined as well?

        The law should be used to protect the innocent from the harms of others. Protecting people from themselves is not a priority for tax dollars.

        John:

        You've either misrepresented or misinterpreted my remarks. I have no problem with police enforcing current regulations. My remark were to question what is the effective use of those resources in protecting everyone from the consequences of law-breaking.

        "All it takes is one innocent looking fall for a non-helmet wearing bicyclist to crack his skull and kill himself or cause himself myriad major injury."

        Absolutely. And the same argument could be made to make helmets mandatory on ski hills, icy sidewalks, during public ice skating sessions, while roller-blading, even in cars... where incidentally, the vast majority of head injuries occur.

        I wear a helmet. But I'd rather see the police ticketing the drivers who endanger others with reckless behaviour before they go after those individuals who make a choice to take risks with their own well-being. That seems to me to be a more effective use of resources, and public or individual opinion about the intelligence of others shouldn't enter into the debate.

        @ Keam.

        "You're an anonymous Internet poster. For all we know you're a car salesman. Or a a member of the road-building industry. Or a card-carrying NPA member. All those scenarios would certainly put a new spin on your comments wouldn't they?"

        Really? Well my friend, I am not anonymous & stand by my positions. I can also be convinced to alter those if presented with convincing arguments or info. You have singularly failed to do so with respect to this matter.

        I am a member of the NPA & take exception to your crude attempt to suggest "NPA members" are against improved bike lanes. Peter Ladner, Suzanne Anton, I & other NPA members are all on public record as supporting increased safe biking. Suzanne, Peter & I have actually had the privilege of being able to initiate much of the current system you now enjoy.

        I & several other NPA members are opposed to the current rushed process, the lack of any assessment of economic impacts & the lack of any opportunity to consider other alternative routes &/or intersection designs, etc. We support improved, safe biking downtown as well as throughout the rest of the City. The evidence that implementations, such as Champlain Heights & Dunsmuir are safe, well considered installations is not convincing. Nor, is there any evidence that the City has any concern of the economic impact these installations will have on affected businesses.

        I also support the implementation of a downtown rental programme. The helmet & other specifics can be worked out.

        Our objective is the same as yours. So Mr. Keam, what's your & your freinds argument with this position?

        Well, given the amount of time you spend daily blogging, I'm not sure what you do do to make a real living. Please enlighten us with a full disclosure of your income & the allocation of your time on a daily & weekly basis.

        "I am a member of the NPA & take exception to your crude attempt to suggest "NPA members" are against improved bike lanes."

        That wasn't my intention Bill and I apologize if it comes across that way. You are right. It was a poor choice of example made without forethought and I could well have chosen a different one. Again, no disrespect was intended towards you or the NPA.

        I am glad to hear however, that cyclists will be able to count on the NPA to continue to work towards improvements for cycling in the region and that public consultation will be an integral part of that goal.

        cheers,
        CK

        "Well, given the amount of time you spend daily blogging, I'm not sure what you do do to make a real living. Please enlighten us with a full disclosure of your income & the allocation of your time on a daily & weekly basis."

        Sure, give me a call and we can talk about it. Contact info available by clicking on my name.

        cheers,

        CK

        Thank you. To be clear, while I am an NPA member, I do not speak for the NPA. I am speaking personally but, will encourage our candidates to support these positions.

        @John

        Laws and the enforcement of laws should be based on actually evidence as to what will result in the greatest improvement in public safety. To get an idea of what the priorities should be, a great place to start is ICBC's Traffic Collision Statistics at http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/safety-research/collision-statistics The stats for each year can be downloaded on the right of the page.

        Around 400 people are killed per year on the roads of BC. Of these 400 deaths, an average of 2.1 per year are as a result of head injuries to people cycling without a helmet while 1.6 areas a result of head injuries to people cycling with a helmet on. As around 58% of people do wear helmets, maybe around 1 life could be saved if everyone wore helmets. Note that however, that helmet use has only risen by around 18% since the helmet law was introduced so the law seems to only be saving 1 life every 5 years or so. In that five year period, around 2000 people in cars, walking and on bikes will die on the roads of BC.

        Yet the VPD issues around 3,500 tickets per year to cyclists in the City of Vancouver alone for not wearing helmets, which is between 5 and 10 percent of the total traffic tickets issued by the VPD. This level of enforcement is clearly out of line with the risk posed by not wearing a helmet while cycling which represents around 0.5% of traffic fatalities.

        If anything, police instead of ticketing cyclists who are not wearing helmets, they should be cracking down on reckless cycling on sidewalks which is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, although given that 10 pedestrians a year are killed in the City of Vancouver by automobiles, I would expect that targeting dangerous driving would still be more effective in improving pedestrian safety than ticketing cyclists.

        Never the less, if there is actual evidence that cracking down on cyclists is the most effective way to improve public, I am more than willing to accept such a crackdown. If not, every ticket to a cyclists is a ticket not given to a dangerous motorist which will result in more deaths and injuries to people who drive, walk and cycle.

        Keith

        Thanks for weighing in on this discussion. Can you confirm that none of your paid staff or contractors ever met with councillors or the Mayor to advocate for more funding for cycling infrastructure? That would include attending council meetings and advocating that elected officials vote a certain way on cycling issues. If not, can you enlighten us as to who coordinates all of your volunteer lobby efforts? Thanks again for providing us with further information and helping to train our future cyclists. I look forward to reading your response.

        VACC revenues: $487,000
        BCAA revenues: $125,000,000

        Hmmm, I wonder which is the most powerful lobby?

        As others have pointed out government grants to the VACC cover specific programs. To claim that these grants are going to advocacy is inaccurate.

        Hi Chris + Keith,

        As a matter of fact, I did not say that VACC 'ran' Critical Mass, but that their members showed up (as they show up at City Hall and at functions like the opening of TransLink's Canada Line Bike Bridge, that runs from Richmond to Vancouver, and the Central Valley Greenway---both bike projects costing considerbly more than the $165,000 they gave to VACC last year).

        I rode in a few Critical Mass rides a few years ago. Always a pleasant ride, and my recollection was that riders were more respectful of drivers then. Too bad so many riders that go out on the ride now seem to want confrontation. Same dopes that smashed some storefront windows during the Olympics?

        "VACC revenues: $487,000
        BCAA revenues: $125,000,000

        Hmmm, I wonder which is the most powerful lobby?"

        I was kind of tickled when the BCAA began offering roadside assistance to cyclists. That's really adaptive behaviour. Why resist positive change when you can look good and keep your customers by rolling with it?

        ...and this, just in!

        http://www.straight.com/article-338056/vancouver/exnpa-candidate-sean-bickerton-slams-critical-mass

        Even 'spartikus's comment approves of a pre-determined bike route.

        Bicycling detente, at long last!?? ;-)

        Really, Critical Mass, it would be the community-minded, mature thing to do.

        BCAA funds its activities through memberships and services to members. VACC should do the same.

        I'd be curious to see what their annual budgets were prior to 2009...

        Sean said "when we’ve got an integrated network of safe bike paths that are separated I don’t understand how they can simultaneously insist on the right to take over the entire road infrastructure". The only bike paths that are physically separated are the seawall, Burrard Bridge, Carrall, and Dunsmuir. Not exactly an integrated network. Maybe he's including bike routes, sharrows, and painted lanes as well.

        But Sean's got a point, and for many of the same reasons I haven't been to Critical Mass in over 2 years. Cycling infrastructure is coming along nicely, but we're not there yet. It's been a big political fight to get the Burrard Bridge and Dunsmuir lanes. Not to mention Hornby. I wonder if Sean would support CM if those lanes hadn't have been built?

        I think CM has 2 redeeming characteristics. 1) it's a great party celebrating cycling. 2) it shows just how many cyclists there are in this city (and a great many of us refuse to attend). It's easy to overlook the number of cyclists (and now that the long-form census is gone it will be harder to measure). In the neighbourhoods around downtown, over 10% of people cycle to work, but you wouldn't guess it from looking at the roads - partially because roads have suburban commuters, but mostly because cyclists take up a lot less space and are often on quite side streets (like 10th or Adanac).

        I think putting CM on a set parade route is a good idea.

        Re Champlain Heights Bike Lanes, these are my comments, sent as part of a discussion on the VACC site re planning for same on Dunbar:

        " For anyone involved in planning bike lanes on Dunbar, I strongly recommend that you visit and assess the bike lanes on both sides of Kerr St (SE Van) between 54th and 58th Aves as an example of WHAT NOT TO DO. There are similarities with the Dunbar shopping area:

        * Busy Champlain Mall, the neighbourhood shopping area, is adjacent to Kerr on the East between 54th and 56th. It has two road entrance/exits onto Kerr in this stretch. Auto, bus and pedestrian traffic can be high.
        * 54th & Kerr is a major local intersection, having a busy gas station and a fire hall.
        * Both 54th and Kerr have bus routes on them, with resultant bus stops.
        * There is roadside parking on the west side of Kerr and the general road aspect is somewhat constricted. Most of the width of the "bike lanes" is door zone.
        * there are two pedestrian crosswalks with curb bulges into the roadway at the same locations as the car entrance/exits to the mall. The "bikes lanes", in effect, are discontinuous at these points.
        * Kerr has a low to medium slope down from 54th south, enabling cyclists to easily maintain motor vehicle speed.


        The effect is:

        * The southbound "bike lane" is only useful when there are no parked cars because of the door zone.
        * Drivers frequently make left hand turns out of Champlain Mall onto southbound Kerr in front of or beside cyclists travelling southbound on Kerr, even having seen them approaching in the middle of the "car lane". Car drivers' attitude is that "You have a bike lane, you're a bike, get over in the bike lane." I make an average of one round trip through this zone per week and I can assure you that this is true, including the driver attitude - In the approx 6 months since these "bike lanes" have been painted on the road, I have had two such encounters with car drivers.

        * The curb bulges are not much of a problem except when a car driver chooses to squeeze the cyclist.


        Bike Lanes that are mostly door zone are worse than useless. The worst part of it is the expectation in car drivers' minds that if thre is two painted white lines on the road, then cyclists better stay between them. "

        Addresses were:
        vacc@yahoogroups.com; Bicycle Hotline; vancouver@vacc.bc.ca; Bicycle Hotline; Velolove; Meggs, Geoff

        I should also have noted that there are 3 or 4 Seniors' housing complexes immediately adjacent to the zone in question and that the crosswalk bulges are therefore entirely desirable and appropriate.

        Given the complexity of the myriad factors and the utter unpredictability of human responses to new installations, it is unrealistic to expect perfection on the first attempt. But THE CITY MUST BE PREPARED TO RE-ASSESS THE INSTALLATIONS AND ACCEPT INPUT FROM USERS.

        There was this "Critical Manners" ride last year that I went on. A helmet was required, it rode in the bike lanes, stopped for the lights, you had to use your hand signals for stopping and turning, and I believe the route was pre-determined and discussed in collaboration with the VPD. Search YouTube for it, there's my video of it on there. Another one of these rides might be nice.

        I am astounded by the large number of "riding without helmet" tickets issued by the VPD. In my opinion, improperly and unlawfully parked Motor Vehicles are a greater hazard to cyclists than is riding with no helmet. Yet, as far as I can see, THERE IS NO PARKING ENFORCEMENT other than for "expired time on meter" and for "parking in Rush-Hour No Parking Lane". Note that the VPD DOES NOT ISSUE PARKING TICKETS. Parking Enforcement is the responsibility of the CofV Engineering Dept.

        The hazards to cyclists I see are:
        * parallel parking further than 30 cm from curb (especially where ther is a painted "Bike Lane") and
        * parking too close to crosswalks, intersections and laneways.

        THE CITY NEEDS TO INSTITUTE A PARKING COMPLIANCE PROGRAM and should start it on all of the "Designated Bike Routes".

        Hi John,
        VACC trained me to do exactly the opposite of HTA # 59
        I was told, never go towards the curb or to the right as stated under the Act...ever. I was told to view the bike as if it were a car and take the lane.
        As a child I was trained to always stay as close to the curb. Does that mean before going to the class I was doing it correctly, only to walk away breaking a law?

        Today I saw this, on the revolving neon sign on the side of a bus.

        Sorry.....out of service...bike2work..

        nuff said....

        George wrote: "VACC trained me to do exactly the opposite of HTA # 59
        I was told, never go towards the curb or to the right as stated under the Act...ever. I was told to view the bike as if it were a car and take the lane.
        As a child I was trained to always stay as close to the curb. Does that mean before going to the class I was doing it correctly, only to walk away breaking a law?"

        I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but here is my understanding.
        The VACC taught you correctly. The near to the right clause is one of the most misunderstood clauses in traffic acts. Canadian law is based on what a reasonable person would do and what is safe. You are not expected to put yourself in danger. Hugging the curb is dangerous. Any lane that is less than 4.3 metres wide is not wide enough to be safely shared by a motor vehicle and a bicycle. You need to ride far enough away from the curb to be safe. You should be at least 1 metre from the curb.

        @ Gerry.
        "it is unrealistic to expect perfection on the first attempt. But THE CITY MUST BE PREPARED TO RE-ASSESS THE INSTALLATIONS AND ACCEPT INPUT FROM USERS."

        & I WOULD add in addition to 'users'.....: "& other affected parties". This is a major shortcoming of the current administrations installations. The principle focus is the bike perspective. Sorry guys, societies are multi-dimensional.

        Thank you for explaining the VACC advocacy guide to the public and for leting people know that the VACC supports respect in its interfaces with the public and with municipal politicians and staff.
        Unfortunately, your article is poorly researched when it comes to funding of the organization and the guide you refer to, especially
        “I suspect this had to be posted online as its development was funded partially through taxpayer funds.”.
        For your information, the guide was written many years ago when the VACC was basically a membership, raffle ticket, and people-donations funded organization. The Guide itself was funded by a very well respected, large Canadian company who believes in communities. The guide was written by an English teacher.
        Now, the VACC makes its funding well known. What about the other lobbyists at City Hall, which you know very well, the developers, the land owners, the business improvement associations, how are they funded and how much tax money, tax money support, and concessions do they get from City Hall? Why are you not reporting on them so that we all have a better understanding of who influences city hall and for what purpose, commercial, private profit, and pure interest in the well being of Vancouverites.
        The residents of this city have strongly indicated that they want a green city, a healthy city. What that means is that we personally have to do our part in it. Pollution produced by personal car driving is a major cause which alternatives must be provided for including transit, cycling and walking. Some of us have started our personal change and make our contributions many years ago. Others are starting it now as we can see when we are about this year.
        The greenest Winter Olympics showed that Vancouverites are willing to make that change with the amount of transit use, cycling and walking that happened.
        Finally, will you make the financing of this blog public in the sense of fairness and awareness of the public?

        "The principle focus is the bike perspective. Sorry guys, societies are multi-dimensional."


        Bill:

        For decades the focus of transportation planning has been on moving cars. The approach has been uni-dimensional with the occasional small move towards other solutions with things like rapid transit lines, bus-only/HOV priority lanes, and cycling routes.

        Now these shortcomings are being addressed and our roads are actually becoming more multi-dimensional, by recognizing the needs of other users.

        No users are being ignored. More are being recognized as having as much right to safe passage through public space. This upsets the status quo and since there is limited space available, somewhere, somebody has to compromise. In this case, it's mostly car users, who got used to being the only constituency that mattered. Little surprise there's an uproar. It was ever thus. From the days when farmers started to impinge on ranch land to the present, when wind surfers find kite boarders at their time-tested beaches, who ever sees themselves as having been there first, thinks they have the right to have things stay as close to the same as it ever was.

        Leadership means listening. But it also means doing. It means prioritizing and making unpopular decisions. It doesn't mean constantly bending to the majority. Sometimes it means standing up for the minority.

        This current scenario isn't a crisis or a boondoggle. It's business as usual and in the long run, it will be a tempest in a teapot.

        There's a complete disconnect from the statement made earlier by VACC's Excutive Director that government funds are being used for programs and the balance sheet in VACC's annual report.

        According to the balance sheet, VACC received $325,194.02 from all levels of government and Translink.

        Yet they only spent $112,720.06 on programs.

        They spent a whopping $343,501.17 on administration salaries.

        So to claim that none of the taxpayer dollars VACC receives isn't used for lobbying is an outright lie.

        Reality Check:

        There some errors in your statements.

        What you refer to as administrative expenses is clearly labeled in the annual report as 'staffing' expenses.

        I'm sure Keith can confirm this, but my understanding is that it's customary to separate labour and material costs on a balance sheet?

        In which case, staffing expenses would include the monies paid to people who are running the programs.

        "So to claim that none of the taxpayer dollars VACC receives isn't used for lobbying is an outright lie."

        The double negative in your sentence actually has you agreeing with Keith's statements earlier. I don't think that's what you intended.

        to Bill McCleery:

        Please Bill, when I wrote "users" I meant everyone who uses the street , or road or whatever it is:
        * Pedestrians
        * Merchants who rely on the parallel parking
        etc....

        If it was a bike & pedestrian swing bridge across False Creek "users" would include the boaters. We're all in this together.

        Jack asked: "will you make the financing of this blog public in the sense of fairness and awareness of the public?"

        Running a website is pretty cheap. I wouldn't be surprised if Daniel and
        Mike pay the costs out of their pocket. That said, I've always been curious if they pay Erin Chutter to pretend to be a columnist here. I hear her on the radio and they always refer to her as a citycaucus.com columnist, but she has only written 1 post in the past 13 months, and that was back in December 2009.

        @Jack,

        Thanks for providing further clarification on the VACC advocacy guide and confirming it was funded by an unknown company and written by an unknown English teacher a number of years ago.

        As I indicated in my post, the guide is a very impressive piece of work. I'm sure other organizations will want to base their future lobbying efforts on the VACC's approach. In fact, two people I know in the public affairs field advised me they've already downloaded it and plan to use it as a reference document when talking to their clients.

        In terms of why I focused on the VACC, and not developers, business associations etc...the reason is simple. The influence that business associations and the development industry have on city halls has been well documented by the mainstream media over the last several decades.

        However, the influence other lobby groups and charitable foundations have on city hall staff and the politicians is much less well known. In fact, until I stumbled upon the VACC advocacy guide, I wasn't aware of the level of sophistication this organization deployed when it comes to lobbying city hall. Our readers have also told us they enjoy getting a different perspective on the inner-workings of city hall, hence my post.

        In response to your question regarding how this blog is funded, I can assure you there are no big benefactors, former politicians, charitable foundations, civic or regional governments etc...keeping the lights on at CityCaucus.com tower. The blog was founded almost two years ago and it has truly been a labour of love. The fixed costs to run the actual website are also very low.

        Both Mike and I have full-time jobs (and lives) outside of CityCaucus.com, and with the exception of some advertising revenue and a few minor donations from our readers, it is run on a very shoestring budget.

        Unlike some organizations that are well funded to run their day-to-day operations through government or charitable foundation grants, that simply isn't the case with this civic affairs blog. If you like what you've been reading, perhaps you'd even consider making a small contribution?

        Thanks again for your interest in this issue and participating in the public dialogue.

        Hi Daniel:

        Will you be revising the section in your article where you state Vancouver had 400km of dedicated bike paths before Vision came to power?

        According to this document there is less than a 100km of dedicated paths in Vancouver, circa 2008.

        http://vancouver.ca/engsvcs/transport/cycling/documents/cycling-factsheet.pdf


        cheers,
        CK

        @Chris. Perhaps you'd like to go back to a Vancouver Sun article from 2007 to see just how bad that NPA administration was when it came to supporting cyclists. They state:

        "VANCOUVER - The city is expected to add more kilometres of official bike routes this year than it has over the past eight years combined.

        A city report shows the number of routes designated for bicycle traffic are expected to jump by 62.7 kilometres during 2007, bringing the city total to 240.5 kilometres from the 177.8 that existed at the end of 2006.

        "It's a wonderful thing," said John Fair, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition...

        You may also want to read a staff report (during Vision's administration) whereby they indicate on page 5 there were just over 400KM worth of bike lanes/paths/ways in the City of Vancouver by the end of 2008. See the BIG graph, hard to miss.

        http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100506/documents/csbu5.pdf

        I'll have more to report on cycling statistics in the coming days. You should find what I report of interest.

        I'm afraid CK you have 1 bow to saw & I've heard it too often.

        I'm the "unknown English teacher" mentioned in a previous post. I wrote the VACC's advocacy guide in 2004/5 (together with a board manual and a set of policy documents). The work was financed through a grant program from VanCity for organisational development of NGOs.

        I wanted to say I'm gratified by your compliments on the advocacy handbook. I was rather afraid it - like so many other similar documents - would simply gather dust after it was finished. As you can imagine, I'm pleased to see it's been pulled off the virtual shelf.

        Those writing projects six years ago were early steps in the VACC's continuing efforts to organise itself and make the best use of limited resources, and it seems to be working. I've watched the development of the VACC from Germany (where I now live) with great admiration and respect for what it's accomplished and for the positive impact it's having on individuals, businesses, and communities.

        Bonnie Fenton

        Hey everyone, Happy to discuss further how a balance sheet is set up.

        Program costs are physical, non-headcount costs. This includes: event facilities, materials, collateral (posters and the like), course supplies, food, entertainment (e.g. a band) etc. Salaries are for salaries that include the specific program managers. Our administration department is a program support department. I invite you to come by our office in the last week of October and First week of November, Our prep and execution of Bike to Work Week is high energy and great fun!

        Darryl, I can confirm our paid staff do not meet with the Mayor and Council to advocate for cycling infrastructure. It is not a part of their roles.

        Clearly with our events we have had the Mayor and Council attend (e.g. Bike to Work Week) and there have been enjoyable chats, but cycling advocacy is left to those whose mandate covers it. We as staff also receive requests from municipalities to provide input on cycling infrastructure, and those requests are forwarded to either our Board or appropriate Committee.

        The Board of the VACC (all volunteers), our local committees (also volunteers), and members are all free to advocate for cycling in their respective municipalities. The Board on a macro basis, and the local committees in their respective communities, organize advocacy efforts.

        Best regards, Keith

        The bottom line is that nothing can justify granting taxpayer dollars to a lobbyist group, which is clearly what VACC is. The fact that it is hundreds of thousands of unaccountable tax dollars makes it worse.

        The sense of entitlement I see from VACC executives is particularly telling.

        This article sure pulled them out of the woodwork fast - that is for sure.

        "Critical Mass, it would be the community-minded, mature thing to do."

        You can't put the words "Critical Mass" and "mature" in the same sentence.

        "You may also want to read a staff report (during Vision's administration) whereby they indicate on page 5 there were just over 400KM worth of bike lanes/paths/ways in the City of Vancouver by the end of 2008. See the BIG graph, hard to miss.

        http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20100506/documents/csbu5.pdf

        Hi Daniel:

        There is an important difference between 'dedicated' bike paths and bike lanes, routes, etc. In fact, the impact of dedicated, separated lanes seems to be an important civic issue judging by media coverage of Burrard, Dunsmuir, Hornby et al, so I'm still hopeful you will revise your article to reflect the correct amount of 'dedicated' bike paths, which as I have noted in my previous post, stands at slightly over 100km according to the City (see link in previous post).

        There may be over 400 lane/kilometres of assorted bike facilities in Vancouver, but there isn't 400 km of dedicated bike paths.

        Thanks,

        Chris Keam

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